No Mercy No Malice

Get Ready for Airbnb’s IPO to Blow Away Expectations

Some are predicting a $30 billion valuation. Here’s why it could actually be a lot higher.

Scott Galloway
Published in
6 min readOct 20, 2020
Airbnb logo displayed on a phone screen with bills in the background
Photo: Nikolas Kokovlis/NurPhoto/Getty Images

While the entire professional class, and every elected official, all claim to be optimists, I see the world through gray-colored glasses. Vaccine by fall, herd immunity, a robust recovery, markets will continue to surge, AI …

Yeah, right.

Pessimists are underappreciated, as while optimists built the first plane, pessimists suggested seat belts. Both parties have a role. Neville Chamberlain, Charles Keating, and Bobbi Brown were all likely optimists. But I digress.

So, being angry and depressed doesn’t mean I’m wrong. There are good companies that are overvalued (Tesla, Snowflake), good businesses whose emissions are bad for society (Facebook, Twitter), and firms that are just a menace (Uber). There are also firms that are all three (Palantir). However, occasionally there is a firm that is so gangster even I can’t help but see the glass as half empty, vs. empty. The most valuable private firm in America is Airbnb.

I believe this time next year, Airbnb will be the most valuable hospitality firm in the world and one of the world’s 10 strongest brands. (Note: rankings of “the world’s best brands” are a desperate yelp for relevance from ad agencies begging clients to buy more media and cling to the nineties, the Brand Era.) The SF platform will likely be worth more than the three largest hotel firms, combined. Why?

The biggest moat in travel

Ride hailing requires local supply (drivers) and demand (hailers). Hotels need local supply (hotel rooms) and regional demand (guests). But a global hotel brand requires both local supply and global demand, as guests are from all over the world. Airbnb has global supply, boasting more than 7 million listings worldwide — more than Marriott International, Hilton Worldwide, InterContinental Hotels Group, Wyndham Hotel Group, and Hyatt Hotels, combined. More impressive, and singular, Airbnb is the only hospitality brand that has the global awareness to generate unrivaled demand.



Scott Galloway

Prof Marketing, NYU Stern • Host, CNN+ • Pivot, Prof G Podcasts • Bestselling author, The Four, The Algebra of Happiness, Post Corona •